Recognizable landscapes and portraits were frequent subjects throughout his career, but Fairfield Porter bristled at the term "realist" that was often applied to his work. He insisted that he painted what he saw rather than what he might assume to be there, and that whole passages in his paintings were abstract. Porter's swathes of vigorously applied paint have an energy and authority equivalent to Abstract Expressionist handling. His admiration for Willem de Kooning was absolute, and like de Kooning, he strove to communicate the essence of what he was trying to convey. Porter, who was also an articulate and widely-published art critic, once observed: "The realist thinks he knows ahead of time what reality is, and the abstract artist what art is, but it is in its formality that realist art excels, and the best abstract art communicates an overwhelming sense of reality."